The Gathering.

 

Sportsmanship and easygoing methods are all right, but it is the prospect of a hot fight that brings out the crowds. -  John McGraw

 

“We need to get there at least an hour before they open the doors.”

 

“I know,” I told my wife, “I’m hurrying.”

 

Although we were over an hour early, a line had already formed. Actually, it was more like a mob of people hovering around the entrance doors. Of the six sets of entry doors that lead to the venue, all but one, were closed. It was being used by staff to enter and exit and make last minute preparations. You could tell that they were getting nervous about the already huge crowd gathering outside the doors.

 

“Hang on to the kids! They’re going to get lost in the crowd.”

 

“I know,” I told my wife, “I’ve got Isaac and Hannah. Do you have the other two?”

 

“The doors are opening!”

 

It was a false alarm, but the crowd shoved closer to the doors in anticipation. Nobody wants to be in the nose-bleed-section. I squeezed Isaac’s hand a bit harder to keep from losing him in the mob and he, of course, responded by trying to pull away.

 

“I need to go to the bathroom,” said Isaac.

 

“Can you hold it for just a couple of minutes? They will open the doors and we can get our seats. Then I’ll take you.”

 

“Yeah, I can hold it.”

 

The crowd suddenly shifted. The time was here!

 

The six sets of doors were opened and the crowd quickly entered the auditorium of the Indianapolis Convention Center. Every person moved toward the front as quickly as they could without actually breaking into a full-on run. We were excited, this was going to be an amazing event and we wanted to enjoy every second of it.

 

We got to our seats, with everyone intact. I had just enough time to take Isaac to the bathroom, get back, and get situated. A momentary hush filled the air as the lights dropped a bit but was quickly replaced with sound of 20,000 Christians singing a song of praise to God. The Sunday morning, Nazarene Church, 2017, General Assembly worship service had begun, and my family and I were glad to be a part of such a wonderful gathering of believers.

 

After the service was over, the crowd slowly made their way out of the auditorium. Along the way groups of people could be seen talking, hugging, and praying for each other. Although the worship service had ended, the gathering of believers continued to share the love of Christ with each other. It was truly a holy event.

 

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. (Psalm 84:10 NIV). 

 

It’s not often I witness Christians getting so excited to worship God. I have, however, on many occasions, witnessed Christians getting excited about other events. I know a large number of professing Christians who line up at 4am on Black Friday but always manage to show up 20 minutes late for church.

 

We all know—or maybe we are—the Christian who refuses to miss a single televised game of their favorite team, but doesn’t bat an eye about skipping Sunday morning service. How many Christians, every Sunday, show up an hour early for service and get excited to worship God? I have been heartbroken on some Sunday mornings because I realize that too many Christians talk a big game about their faith, but don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time worshiping God.

 

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).

 

Friends, corporate worship is not optional, it’s commanded. Corporate worship is both the nourishment for our faith and its end goal. We gather, corporately, to encourage each other as we adore and give praise to God. We gather, corporately, as the proper response of thanksgiving to the Jesus whose gracious sacrifice allows for our salvation. We gather, corporately, to practice now, in our everyday lives,  what we look forward to upon the return of Christ.

 

Ask yourself why we don’t gather an hour early in anticipation for the gathering of believers to worship the Creator and Savior. Do we simply not find His grace that exciting? Are we convinced that we have sufficiently shown our thanks for God taking on flesh, suffering, and dying so that we can be free from the power of death and sin? We might do well to ask ourselves, based solely on our level of anticipation, what do we really worship? Why?

 

What is keeping us from worshiping God with passion and enthusiasm?

 

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. (Psalm 95:6-7 NIV).

 

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9 (NIV).

 

Grafted by His Grace,

Pastor Raul Granillo

 

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